Going against my high school Calc teacher's words of wisdom of "better never than late," here's a preview of the already 6-1 Ohio St basketball team. The 2009-10 squad comes into the season with talent, experience, and one of the nation's best players, giving them pretty high expectations. I don't think anyone is really thinking National Title, but a Big Ten Championship and possible Final Four sleeper is not totally out of the question. Let's take a look at the positives and negatives.
1.) Evan Turner. Turner led the team in every major statistical category last year, and after watching the season thus far, absolutely is a candidate for National Player of the Year - averaging 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists. He is ridiculously good. He is so good, in fact, that coach Thad Matta has been flirting with the idea of making him a "point-forward," made famous by Scottie Pippen on the great Chicago Bull teams. He has handled the ball a decent amount this year, but is still all over the court. The commentator in last night's game said that he would be an All-Big Ten selection at all five positions. ET is still only a junior, but will most likely opt for the NBA at season's end.
2.) Outside Shooting. This team can absolutely shoot the lights out. Jon Diebler is one of the best 3 point shooters in the nation, hitting 41% from beyond the arc last year, and just a stupid good 49% so far this season. He is already second in school history in 3's made, and surely on his way to pass standout Jamar Butler within the next two years (assuming he doesn't go pro too). Turner, David Lighty, William Buford, and Jeremie Simmons can all shoot the rock as well. Buford takes too many bad shots, but can hit when left open.
3.) Experience. The Buckeyes are returning every player with quality minutes from the '08 team, with the exception of B.J. Mullens, who underperformed and decided to hit the NBA while he still had the chance to be selected. Even better, they get David Lighty back, who has been to a Final Four but was out all of last season with an injury. The incredible thing is, they are all still Juniors! You can't be sure of how things are going to turn out, but right now it looks like no one has the talent to leave early save for Turner.
1.) Size. The team basically starts four guards, with Turner and Lighty being listed as G/F, but are only 6'6 and 6'5, respectively. This could be a problem, especially in the Big Ten, with Purdue, Michigan St, and Northwestern all having quality big men. It isn't all bad though. The one forward that does start, is 6'8 265 pound Dallas Lauderdale. Dallas is an absolute monster down low, blocking more than two shots a game last year. His biggest concern will certainly be staying out of foul trouble, something we saw plague Greg Oden three years back. Sophomore Zisis Sarikopoulos is 7'0, but not very polished. If he can mature quickly, and Kyle Madsen can provide some quality minutes off the bench, Ohio St might not be in too bad of shape, especially when you consider how many rebounds ET gets despite his size.
2.) Depth. This starting five is just as good, if not better, than the 2006 Greg Oden/Mike Conley led team, but lacks the quality bench players. Simmons is a decent sixth man, but certainly no Daequan Cook, and it gets even more shallow after that. PG P.J. Hill is a great defender and F Madsen is solid defensively, but both provide absolutely nothing on the offensive side of the ball. Just as with the size, the key may be Sarikopoulos' development.
Ohio St has looked very good so far, with their only loss coming to North Carolina. Even in that game, they showed a lot of heart and guts to stay in that game. They have basically looked flawless in big wins over Cal and last night against Florida St. With a fantastic coach, star players, and lights out shooting, the Bucks could be destined for big things. However, the Big Ten is the best it has been in years, so conference play will be tough, especially with starting four of the first five games on the road. This should be a really entertaining season, and there is nothing I think Evan Turner can't do, including leading this team to a Final Four.
Thursday, December 3